U.S. Should Ensure Coverage for Children
"Guaranteeing insurance for all kids should be a national priority, with a national solution and a broad funding source," columnist Ronald Brownstein writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. According to Brownstein, the increased number of uninsured children has "provoked little discussion in Washington," where President Bush and Congress have "failed to agree on any serious steps to reverse the rise in health care costs and the decline in access," but states have made several "important steps and could take more in November."
For example, Illinois has established a program that allows all parents to purchase subsidized health insurance for children, and Massachusetts has enacted a law that will provide Medicaid coverage for all children in families with annual incomes less than three times the federal poverty level.
In addition, the November ballots in California and Missouri will include measures that would increase taxes on tobacco to fund health insurance programs.
Brownstein writes that the efforts "dramatize both the possibilities and the perils of expanding coverage at a state level."
The efforts might prompt federal lawmakers to address the issue of uninsured children, but the "problem is that, compared with Washington, states have more limited revenue sources to finance expanded coverage for kids," Brownstein writes. He concludes that, "until Washington commits to the cause, America will continue to live with the shame of denying reliable health care to one in every nine of its children" (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 10/15).